Read Mark 13 at Bible Gateway.
This chapter of Mark corresponds to Mat 24 (my comments about Mat 24 are posted here). Matthew records three questions that the disciples ask Jesus, while Mark records two questions:
Mat 24:3 —
1) When will these things be (the throwing down of the Temple)?
2) What will be the sign of Your coming?
3) What will be the sign of the end of the age?
Mar 13:4 —
1) When will these things be (the throwing down of the Temple);
2) What will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?
We discovered when we were studying Matthew, that Jesus answered all three questions recorded in Matthew as follows:
1st question in Mat 24:15-22;
2nd question in Mat 24:23-51;
3rd question in Mat 24:4-14.
So I correlated Jesus’ answers in Mark with His answers in Matthew, to see what I could discover concerning His answering of these two questions (I posted my notes; click on the link to see them). The substance of Jesus’ answer in Mark follows point for point the substance of Jesus’ answer in Matthew, so it was easy to correlate. But Mark reveals some things that are not apparent in Matthew at first.
Matthew records three questions, while Mark records two. But Jesus’ answer in Mark is nearly identical to His answer in Matthew. In fact, Mar 13:14-20 exactly corresponds to Mat 24:15-22, which answers the question, When will these things (the throwing down of the Temple) be? That means that Jesus’ answer which comes before vs.14 in Mark, and His answer which comes after vs. 20, answers the only question left: What will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled? Jesus embedded His answer about the destruction of the Temple as the central axis of the discourse, in fact, preceded and followed by a matching element, His answer about the sign when all will be fulfilled.
The first half of His answer to the question, what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled, comes in Mar 13:5-13, and exactly corresponds to Mat 24:4-14 — the answer to the Matthew question, What will be the sign of the end of the age? Since these answers correlate, we can infer that the sign of the end of the age, is the same as the sign when all things will be fulfilled. It makes sense; the questions basically have the same meaning, just worded a little differently.
In Mark, Jesus continues His answer of What will be the sign when all things will be fulfilled, following His discourse on the destruction of the Temple. Mar 13:21-37 exactly corresponds to Mat 24:23-51 in content. Mat 24:23-51 answered the question, What will be the sign of Your coming? So we can infer that the sign of Jesus’ coming is the same as the sign when all things will be fulfilled.
That the discourse on the destruction of the Temple is the central axis in Jesus’ answer, explains why He answered the disciples’ questions recorded in Mat 24:3 in a different order from the order they asked them. Now that we know which answers go to which questions, something amazing becomes clear:
The Great Tribulation and the abomination of desolation has already occurred, at the time of the destruction of the Temple! The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. There were ten terrible persecutions of the Christians, which were not suffered also by the Jews, which took place in the Roman Empire. The first was from 64-68 AD under Nero; during this one Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified upside down. The second through tenth followed the destruction of the Temple, from 95 AD through 305 AD. Some of these persecutions were less severe than others, and some were so severe, that at the end of them, the Romans thought they had killed every last Christian in their provinces, from Britain to Persia, from Europe to Africa, and that the name of Jesus would never be heard of again. The historical events recorded about these persecutions certainly fulfills Jesus’ prophecy that the tribulation was great, so great that none was ever like it before it or since.
My personal opinion is that the time that is coming will be a time of great judgment and plagues poured out onto Babylon, i.e., the kingdoms of this world, and those who have left Babylon, will, like Noah, and like Lot, and like Israel when they were being delivered from Egypt, experience supernatural protection and victory in the face of the terrible destruction which is coming upon the world, the ungodly, and the wicked (not the righteous). I could be wrong. But that is what I believe the Scripture, stripped from the presumptions overlaid on it by Western modern man, and restored to its Hebraic foundation, is teaching.
For further reading:
Fox’s Book of Martyrs (especially the first two chapters)